Summer is one of the best times to find fresh produce like tomatoes, corn, and watermelon. But during summer barbecues, you’ll rarely find those to be the most popular items on the table. Too often, some of the healthiest and most delicious items are ignored in favor of summertime staples like greasy potato chips and creamy macaroni salads.
“Between food and soda and alcohol, it’s easy to consume hundreds of extra calories at a barbecue or summer party without realizing it,” says Judy Matusky, RD, LDN, nutrition specialist at Bryn Mawr and Paoli hospitals. “You don’t have to limit yourself at every party you go to, but making a few healthy substitutions can help you enjoy yourself without making you feel like you’re missing out.”
Below, Matusky offers tips for making healthy foods the star of your next summer party, rather than an afterthought.
Try a meat-free option
Burgers and hot dogs might be the most traditional meat option, but why not try skipping meat and opt for seafood instead? Shrimp skewers, crab cakes, or tilapia are all crowd-pleasing options, and can be a healthier option than red meat. If you’re not ready to go completely meat-free, offer it as a second option for guests.
Grill fruits and vegetables
Even if you’re trying to make healthy choices, it’s hard to convince yourself to be interested in picked-over fruit salad that’s been left in the sun too long. Instead of the tired side fruit salad, try grilled fruits and veggies as a side, like grilled pineapple lightly brushed with teriyaki sauce or grilled asparagus sprinkled with garlic salt or Parmesan cheese.
Substitute for skewers
When you’re hungry, it’s easy to scarf down a burger in a few bites and reach for a second. To slow yourself down, and keep your plate full, try chicken or beef skewers, alternating pieces of meat with grilled vegetables like red peppers or onions. These will likely take you longer to eat, which will give you time to feel full before you reach for a second helping, and sneak in an extra serving of veggies.
Swap vinegar for mayo
Potato salad is a summer staple, and the good news is you don’t have to give it up. Instead of using creamy, calorie-heavy mayo to make your potato salad this summer, opt for vinegar instead.
“Mixed with herbs like parsley, basil, and dill, vinegar can add a delicious tangy taste to potato salad, and is a healthier option than mayo,” says Matusky. “If you really miss the creamy texture, plain Greek yogurt is also an option.”
Turn fruit into dessert
Ice cream and sugary pies can be hard to beat, but it’s possible to make a fruit-based dessert taste just as good. This summer, try homemade popsicles with fruits like strawberries and raspberries, or desserts like homemade peach cobbler. With a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of frozen Greek yogurt, desserts like these can be so decadent, you won’t realize that they’re not the calorie-heavy treats of summers past.
Remember that summer parties don't have to be about depriving yourself. But by making some simple changes to fruits and veggie dishes and adding some lean meats and seafood to your menu, you can make healthier choices. The first step to losing weight is adopting a healthier lifestyle and making healthy choices like these. But if you’re still struggling to lose weight, there are other options available. For those looking for a weight loss program, the Bariatric Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital can help.
“Bariatric surgery can be an option for patients who have not found success with traditional weight loss techniques, like diet and exercise, and can help with long-term weight loss better than any other diet regimen available,” explains Richard Ing, MD, Medical Director of the Bariatric Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital. “But bariatric surgery doesn’t stop at surgery. Our goal is to provide our patients with the tools and the support they need to lose weight safely and maintain a healthy weight in the long term.”
In addition to weight loss, bariatric surgery can also help to eliminate chronic health problems related to weight such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and high cholesterol.
Visit our website to learn more about bariatric surgery or the other weight management services available at Main Line Health, including the Medical Weight Management Program and nutrition counseling.